The European Medicines Agency has recommended that the world’s first Ebola vaccine be approved, after it was administered to hundreds of thousands of people in Africa.
The agency on Friday described licensing the vaccine as “an important step toward relieving the burden of this deadly disease.”
The Ebola vaccine was originally developed in Canada and is now marketed by Merck as Ervebo. More than 270,000 people in Africa have received it under emergency guidelines as officials try to stop Congo’s ongoing outbreak.
Merck said in a statement its priority now was to get regulatory approval of its Ervebo manufacturing site in Germany so that licensed supply of the vaccine “can be used to support global public health preparedness.”
A second vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, which is not yet licensed, will soon be used in parts of Congo where Ebola is not actively spreading.
Also Friday, the World Health Organization is convening a meeting to consider whether the epidemic in Congo should still be designated a global emergency.
Ebola virus causes haemorrhagic fever and spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids.
There are currently no licensed treatments for the deadly infection, but scientists said in August they were a step closer to being able to cure it after two experimental drugs showed survival rates of as much as 90 per cent in a clinical trial in Congo.